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Last week, I discussed RV security systems. In this post, I want to switch gears and discuss alarm systems for your motorhome. What exactly is an RV alarm system, and what does it do?
An RV alarm system notifies you via sound if someone trespasses on your motorhome. For example, if a criminal tried to access the front door or lift a window, you’d know immediately, even if you’re sleeping.
You’ve come to the right place if you’re interested in learning more. This article will explore the basics of RV alarm systems, including their features, benefits, and what to look for when buying an alarm system.
Let’s dive right in.
What Is an RV Alarm System? What Are the Most Important Features?
Here is a table with the most common RV alarm system features and what they do;
|RV Alarm System Feature||What It Does|
|Strong alarm||The main feature of an alarm system; producing sound at 120 decibels of volume or higher; the alarm rings out shrilly to scare off amateur burglars|
|Entry sensors||Affixed to vulnerable points of the RV such as doors and windows; linked to the alarm system and indicate to the alarm to ring if tripped|
|Panic button||Cameras capture crimes as they happen and act as a tool for monitoring your motorhome, even if you’re away for an afternoon|
|Motion sensors||Reads motion in front of and around your vehicle to indicate that someone might be near your RV; however, motion sensors can also detect animals and sometimes a strong wind depending on the sensor’s sensitivity|
|Camera(s)||Cameras capture crimes as they happen and act as a tool for monitoring your motorhome even if you’re away for an afternoon|
|Night vision||Activates in the dark to help the alarm system user discern shapes in the blackness that they can’t see with their own eyes|
As I did when discussing security systems, I want to begin by broadening the definition of RV alarm systems from the intro.
A motorhome alarm system scares off criminals with loud, blaring sounds that trigger when someone tries to enter your vehicle. These sounds are audible from a good distance away, so if other criminals linger in the area, the alarm is a warning sign to stay away and attract law enforcement’s attention.
In most scenarios, the alarm system will stay completely silent, only triggering if someone steps within a certain radius of your RV or tries to break in through the windows or doors. In comparison, a security system could include GPS tracking and live feed monitoring of what’s happening inside and around the RV.
Let’s review the features found in RV alarm systems, where the first three are the most common, and the rest could be found in alarm systems, too but are more common in so-called security systems.
1. Entry Sensors
Entry sensors are one of the most common and important parts of your RV alarm system and the reason your RV alarm system works so well.
You affix these entry sensors to points of entry, just as the name implies. When a burglar tries to break into a window or door, the sensors indicate to the alarm system that it’s time to go, and the alarms begin sounding.
2. Strong Alarm
The starring feature of an RV alarm system is the NOISE!
When the entry or other sensors are tripped, they signal to the alarm control panel. This triggers the strong alarm or “speakers” to begin blaring. An alarm has to be loud, as its job is to prevent burglars from proceeding with their crimes. The average decibel rate for an alarm system is 120 to 130 decibels.
Between 120 and 140 decibels, the volume level is as loud as a hammer hitting a nail, auto racing, or a rock concert. Everyone in the vicinity can hear it, but you’re not damaging your hearing every time the alarm goes off (which hopefully will not often be!).
3. Panic Button
The panic button can soundlessly contact police, so if a robber got into your RV and you wanted to call for help discretely, you have that option.
You hope you never have to use it, but you’re glad the panic button is there, just in case.
4. Motion Sensors
How does the alarm system gauge whether someone is encroaching on your property? Cameras are one method (which I’ll talk more about momentarily), and motion sensors are another.
Motion sensors feature infrared energy waves that can detect motion. Since infrared radiation becomes denser the closer it is to the motion sensor and thinner when further away, a motion sensor can pick up the presence of someone or something with a good degree of accuracy.
However, I must mention one caveat, just as I did in my post about motorhome security systems. Motion sensors don’t pick up on the presence of people exclusively. The sensors will detect if an animal crosses in front of your RV.
Even a strong wind can trigger your alarm system’s motion detection if the system is sensitive enough.
In that regard, motion sensors are imperfect technology. They work accurately, but if they automatically trigger an alarm anytime motion occurs in front of your motorhome, you could be in for a lot of needless noise.
Accompanying motion detection in an alarm system is a camera or several others. The cameras consistently roll to catch footage of any perpetrators on the spot. If your alarm system links to your smartphone via an app–which many do now–you can see the footage as it accumulates in real-time.
This is highly valuable as if you’re a few miles away from your motorhome hiking, swimming, or otherwise enjoying nature; you can still maintain eyes on your vehicle.
You can typically use your phone app to save footage, so if a crime ever did occur, you’d have proof of it. Your footage might also help the police identify the criminals so they can be arrested and prosecuted for their nefarious deeds.
The app will work best if your phone has a reliable Internet connection. FYI, those can be hard to come by when camping.
The cameras and night vision features are more what I would consider a security system rather than an alarm system, but sometimes they are marketed as such, and I think they are cool features, so I choose to include them here as well.
6. Night Vision
Once the sun goes down, motion sensors don’t work as well. Even cameras have become less efficient, as it’s hard to discern who or what is in the dark.
This is the night vision system’s chance to shine. Night vision features optoelectronic image enhancement that can read infrared light. When reviewing footage, that light is amplified into a green figure you can easily see from your phone.
What Are the Benefits of an RV Alarm System?
An RV alarm system can be highly advantageous. Let’s go over the benefits you can expect.
Might Deter Criminals
Legal sanctions can stop criminals, but when those fail, an alarm system might do the trick.
According to Angi, in a study from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, of 422 burglars convicted for their crimes, 83 percent looked for alarms and then decided whether to break into a home.
Alarms are as effective as they are at deterring crime is that most burglars aren’t seasoned pros but amateurs. They see an opportunity and want to take it, but if a motorhome has an alarm system, that’s a sign to steer clear.
Records Criminal Activity If It Happens
Even if an RV alarm system doesn’t stop a criminal, or perhaps they weren’t aware it was there, you can rest assured that the cameras in your alarm system will capture the illegal activity.
This goes back to my point from before. You can save and use this footage to help police prosecute criminals.
It provides Peace of Mind
A motorhome alarm system’s greatest benefit is putting you at ease. You’re living in your RV for relaxation, wonder, and adventure. At least, I know I am. You can’t enjoy the experience fully when stressing out about someone potentially breaking into your expensive vehicle.
With an alarm system installed in your RV and an accompanying app on your phone, you can always check on your vehicle no matter how far away you get. Or know that the alarm will wake you as someone tries to break in if you sleep.
At least it will make noise that hopefully attracts the attention of nearby good citizens who can help out and put pressure on the criminal and make them run away instead of following through with the intended break-in.
What to Look for When Buying an RV Alarm System
How do you buy the right RV alarm system for you? I’ll recommend some alarm systems in a future blog post (which you won’t want to miss!).
In the meantime, here are some important features to keep in mind.
You might already have security features installed around your RV, such as standalone cameras. In that case, you don’t need a whole alarm system with cameras, only the alarms, sensors, motion detector, and panic button.
Since the features of motorhome alarm systems and security systems overlap, if you already use a security system, you might not need a full alarm system either.
Of course, if your RV currently has no security, then by all means, buy a full alarm system.
Here’s a very important consideration: the power source for your alarm system.
If you’re into boondocking, your alarm system should be able to run on 12 volts. If it runs on 120 or 220 volts of AC power, you’ll need an electrical system to manage that.
However, if you always have reliable sources of shore power, an alarm system that runs on AC power suffices. Just be aware of the downside.
Easy to Install
No one wants to spend hours finagling with an alarm system. The easier yours comes together so you can use it immediately, the better!
It has All the Features You Need
The features I discussed early are standard in alarm systems but not necessarily guaranteed. Look out for combined features such as a night vision camera.
That doesn’t make an alarm system with a night vision camera better than one with a separate camera and night vision sensor; just different.
RVs aren’t cheap, which I’m sure you know all too well. You need an affordable alarm system that doesn’t skimp on features but won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
RV alarm systems produce high-decibel sounds to scare off intruders.
More so than that, an alarm system uses cameras to capture nefarious activity, smartphone app functionality to monitor the live feed and save footage, and motion sensors so you can stay abreast of who’s around your vehicle.
The best alarm system for your motorhome is one that has the features you need at a price point you can afford.